Suzanne Collins: ‘Games’ author shapes bestseller for bigscreen

Youth Impact Report 2012: Bigscreen Chaperones

After 16 years as a scribe for “Clarissa Takes It All,” “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” and other children’s programming, Suzanne Collins hit the stratospheric heights climbed by J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer with her book series, “The Hunger Games.”

Collins’ fans include fellow authors Meyer and Stephen King (who blurbed the first book with “I couldn’t stop reading”), producer Nina Jacobson and director Gary Ross. Jacobson and Ross loved it so much they optioned and adapted “The Hunger Games” into one of the year’s highest-grossing movies.

“Suzanne is so good at that kind of propulsive storytelling that makes you not want the books to end,” says Jacobson.

Collins’ dystopian trilogy blends Rowling’s adolescent character development and world building with Meyer’s gift for swoon-worthy teen romance.

But unlike other authors who stepped away from the page-to-screen transition, Collins has stayed involved.

“We work very closely,” says Jacobson. “It’s always important to me that she feels her voice comes through, that the values of the book come through in the movies.”

No stranger to writers’ rooms, Collins worked closely with Ross as well, collaborating with him on the final script and even sitting in on the casting auditions — particularly those of protagonist Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and the two young men vying for her love, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

“She was at my audition process, which made me nervous … but she was supportive all the way through,” Hutcherson recalls. “It meant a lot to have her involved, because it gave fans that sense of security that the author wasn’t just handing something they loved off to be made into a movie.”

Impact: Wrote the “Hunger Games” trilogy and co-penned the script.
Next: Working with director Francis Lawrence to keep sequels “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” true to the spirit of her novels.

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